When I was told at the age of 23 that I was in pre-menopause, I felt like my world crashed down around me. My husband and I had only been married a year plus a few months when I first started to experience symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and infertility. We were told that the longer we’d wait to try to conceive, the less likely it would happen because my labs were very abnormal for a 23-year-old. Pre-menopausal. At 23 years old.
That was ten years ago, and since that diagnosis, life has been full of ups and downs with infertility, conceiving, becoming a mom, trying to conceive again, miscarrying, and feeling broken, tired, and overwhelmed. Thousands of dollars have been spent over the years trying to force my body into submission – to make it merely function the way it’s supposed to. You know, like have a healthy period, ovulate, then have another healthy period… and do it all without periodic pain throughout the month, without breakthrough spotting, and without intervention.
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Every time I hear someone say that they know their cycles, that an app can tell them exactly when they will have a period (and it’s right), that they can look at a calendar and say “I think I want to have a baby during this particular month”, and then they DO… I’m shocked. Utterly shocked. Having regular cycles without intervention is such a foreign concept to me. Even before I was married, before most of my PCOS symptoms kicked in, I went on birth control to manage my cycles because I never really knew when to expect them and they were so painful and heavy. And today? Today I have to use natural remedies every month just to function.
It’s been incredibly difficult over the last decade watching the majority of people around me have zero struggles with infertility, all while hearing painful comments. Comments such as, “Maybe you should just adopt” or, “Just stop trying and that’s when it’ll happen” or “Well, you’ve been able to have one, that means you can have another”. I’ve also been made well aware that my daughter is older now (she just turned 8 in March), so she and whatever sibling that eventually comes along probably “won’t be close” (their words – not mine).
In spite of the difficulty and people’s strange, unhelpful comments, I’ve also been met with the best kind of support, between my husband, family, friends, and the infertility community. But one thing I’ve learned about infertility is that it’s up to me when it comes to how I live my life in spite of what’s been handed to me. Between the comments, the pregnancy announcements, and the baby showers, sometimes I have to set boundaries to protect my heart. Sometimes I have to let things roll off my back for the sake of my relationships. And sometimes, I have to pretend I’m fine, even when I’m screaming inside.
Now that I’m 33, I look back on the last ten years of my life and it has been very strange and not at all what I expected. I’ve been blessed with an incredible daughter thanks to fertility treatment, thanks to a persistent doctor who treats me like family and not a number. I’ve had one live birth in a hospital with a NICU stay, and one excruciating at-home miscarriage. I’m timidly holding onto hope that our journey isn’t over. A decade isn’t an eternity, even though sometimes it feels like one.
I’m still standing.
Jessi and her husband Glenn have spent their 11-year marriage navigating infertility. Between her PCOS and his male-factor infertility, they have struggled immensely to grow their family since the beginning. They share one daughter conceived from fertility treatment (born 2010) and had one surprise miracle pregnancy after five+ years of TTC that ended in a devastating miscarriage (2017). Jessi writes about conquering infertility, embracing motherhood, recovering from a miscarriage, and her faith on her blog Life Abundant, on Facebook, and on Instagram.